The NFL just released its schedule for the 2022 season. Sportsbooks wasted little time in posting lines and NFL odds for Week 1. Let’s take a very early look at the Week 1 schedule for the 2022 NFL season and make some picks and predictions for the opening slate of games.
NFL picks and predictions Week 1 | NFL lines and odds
Oddsmakers are extremely sharp when it comes to setting lines. While Week 1 always comes with the uncertainty of a new season, sportsbooks will never have more time to fine-tune the odds. Let’s take a look at every Week 1 game and see if we can find some lines worth jumping on early. All lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook and are correct as of 6:45 p.m. ET on May 12.
Thursday Night Football: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams (-1)
It’s May (consider this the default preface to everything you’re about to read). I don’t want to read too much into lines four months in advance. With that said, the books opening this at anything other than Rams -3 is very telling. Simply put, they view the Bills as the better team. I do, too.
I think 2022 is the Bills’ year. After losing in the Divisional Round to the Chiefs in a heartbreaker, Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Devin Singletary are ready to start the season strong. The Rams return much of the same team that just won the Super Bowl. Matthew Stafford is back for Year 2, and Cooper Kupp is still the best wide receiver in football. But I like the Bills to get the road victory over the defending champs.
Bills vs. Rams Prediction:Bills 34, Rams 31
Cleveland Browns (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers
I’m not sure how books can set a line for this game without knowing Deshaun Watson’s status. Judging by the line, they seem to be assuming he will be playing. I tend to agree with them.
Watson hasn’t played football since the 2020 season, but if he’s out there, he’ll represent a massive advantage for the Browns over Carolina’s Sam Darnold. There’s still a chance the Panthers could trade for Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo, but all signs point to Darnold starting once again.
The Browns have a new WR1 in Amari Cooper, while the Panthers still don’t have anyone to help out DJ Moore. They’ll at least presumably have a healthy Christian McCaffrey, but I don’t see the Panthers being able to keep pace with the Browns in this one.
Browns vs. Panthers Prediction:Browns 24, Panthers 14
New Orleans Saints (-3.5) at Atlanta Falcons
We get it. The Falcons are a bad team. But setting them as more than a field-goal home underdog against the Saints? That seems a bit harsh.
The Saints enter the 2022 season with Jameis Winston coming off a torn ACL, while Michael Thomas has not played football in nearly two years. I’m not entirely sure Winston is better than the guy on the other side of the field, Marcus Mariota.
The Falcons will be without Calvin Ridley, but they have Kyle Pitts and rookie Drake London. Neither team is rife with playmakers, but these clubs seem more evenly matched than the line suggests.
Saints vs. Falcons Prediction: Falcons 20, Saints 17
Baltimore Ravens (-4) at New York Jets
Although the Ravens somehow managed to miss the playoffs after an 8-3 start last season, they are still one of the better teams in the NFL. They can’t possibly sustain as many injuries this season as they did last season.
On the other side, the Jets couldn’t have done more to set Zach Wilson up for success. They added Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall to an offense that already featured Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios. I really like the Ravens this year, but I’m buying the Jets as much improved in the 2022 season.
Jets vs. Ravens Prediction: Ravens 23, Jets 19
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) at Chicago Bears
At this juncture, we still don’t know who will start at quarterback for the 49ers. Trey Lance should be the guy, but Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the team.
For the Bears, we know it will be Justin Fields. Unlike the aforementioned Jets, the Bears have done next to nothing to help their sophomore signal-caller.
Fields’ WR1 is Darnell Mooney, and his WR2 and WR3 are Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown. The only wide receiver Chicago drafted was 25-year-old special teamer Velus Jones Jr.
A touchdown is a heavy price to lay on the road, but I just have no confidence in the Bears this season.
Bears vs. 49ers Prediction: 49ers 27, Bears 13
Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders (-4)
This is probably the most difficult game to pick on the Week 1 slate. Will Trevor Lawrence take a step forward after his incredibly disappointing rookie season? Can Carson Wentz turn his career around on his third team in as many seasons?
The Jaguars’ offense is filled with a bunch of good players, but they don’t have any great players. The Commanders have a potentially great wide receiver in Terry McLaurin but a lot of uncertainty beyond that. In a game where I don’t know what to think, I err on the side of taking the points.
Jaguars vs. Commanders Prediction: Commanders 20, Jaguars 17
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)
Last season’s Super Bowl runner-up opens at home against a division rival. The Steelers are about to embark on the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. Whether it’s Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, I’m not optimistic about their chances here.
The Bengals bring back their entire offense of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon. And they spent the offseason improving their offensive line. Rather than a Super Bowl loss hangover, I’m expecting an inspired performance here as the Bengals take it to a Steelers team not quite ready for life without Big Ben.
Steelers vs. Bengals Prediction: Bengals 27, Steelers 17
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (-2.5)
I really like the Dolphins this year. Tyreek Hill is going to help the perhaps unfairly maligned Tua Tagovailoa immensely. Along with Jaylen Waddle, Cedrick Wilson Jr., and Chase Edmonds, the addition of Hill gives Tagovailoa quite an impressive set of weapons.
The Patriots, on the other hand, seem to have no idea what they’re doing. They spent three draft picks on two running backs and a backup quarterback. Their best wide receiver is the guy they got from the Dolphins because he wasn’t good enough to play in three-receiver sets (DeVante Parker). Mac Jones may be the better quarterback, but the Dolphins are the better team.
Patriots vs. Dolphins Prediction: Dolphins 22, Patriots 16
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Detroit Lions
One of the more improved teams from last year is the Lions. Jared Goff is obviously not a top-tier starting quarterback, but he’s better than he gets credit for. The man did play in a Super Bowl.
The Eagles also improved by adding A.J. Brown, who gives Jalen Hurts a true WR1 on top of DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. However, I still don’t see them as a real contender just yet.
Meanwhile, the Lions’ additions of DJ Chark and Jameson Williams to go along with a healthy D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson (plus a now second-year Amon-Ra St. Brown) has me looking at them as a sneaky wild card contender.
Eagles vs. Lions Prediction: Lions 24, Eagles 20
Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) at Houston Texans
A large part of why I’m fading the Titans is because I really believe in the Colts. Sometimes, you have to hold your nose and align with the public. I expect heavy action on the Colts, but I have to agree with it.
Matt Ryan is well past his prime, but he’s still a sizable upgrade over Carson Wentz. Michael Pittman is set to become a star, and Jonathan Taylor will run all over the Texans.
The Texans are giving Davis Mills a full-season tryout. It may work. It may not. Either way, they’re starting this season 0-1.
Colts vs. Texans Prediction: Colts 31, Texans 19
New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (-6.5)
This is a matchup between two teams I am fading pretty heavily this season. The Giants have done most of the right things to set themselves up for the future. Unfortunately, none of it matters until they find a quarterback. Daniel Jones is not that guy.
The Titans drafted Malik Willis in the third round, but he is no threat to Ryan Tannehill. I do not believe an NFL team can win with Tannehill, but he’s at least a capable starting quarterback — the only one in this game. My money will be on the Titans to miss the playoffs this season, but they’re starting off 2022 with a bang.
Giants vs. Titans Prediction: Titans 28, Giants 14
Green Bay Packers (-1.5) at Minnesota Vikings
This is my very early favorite bet of the week. Aaron Rodgers is coming off back-to-back MVP awards. He’s still playing at an elite level. However, he lost Davante Adams and, of lesser importance, Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Their replacements are Sammy Watkins, rookie second-rounder Christian Watson, and Day 3 pick Romeo Doubs.
The Vikings have Kirk Cousins back and are finally committed to him. They have one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in Justin Jefferson. Adam Thielen is healthy. Dalvin Cook is healthy. This team is my pick to win the NFC North, and I think they get it started with a win over their division rivals.
Packers vs. Vikings Prediction: Vikings 27, Packers 24
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Arizona Cardinals
I am very concerned about the Chiefs’ offense in a post-Tyreek Hill world. He’s irreplaceable. The only pass catchers Patrick Mahomes has back from last season are Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman. I’m expecting some growing pains as he learns to navigate throwing to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and rookie Skyy Moore.
Meanwhile, Kyler Murray has made it a habit of starting hot and fading later in the season. He’ll be operating without DeAndre Hopkins and doesn’t have Christian Kirk anymore. He does have Marquise Brown, plus Zach Ertz and James Conner are back. The Cardinals are at home, and I like their situation a bit better than the Chiefs’ this season.
Chiefs vs. Cardinals Prediction: Cardinals 34, Chiefs 30
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-4)
The last time the Chargers played was the final game of the 2021 regular season, where they lost in overtime to the Raiders, knocking them out of the playoffs. You have to think they haven’t forgotten.
The Raiders made some quality additions this offseason, most notably acquiring Davante Adams. While the Chargers haven’t added much to their offense, they have focused on improving their already good offensive line. This feels like the year the Chargers finally take that massive leap forward behind Justin Herbert’s continued ascent. I like them to get started on the right foot this year.
Raiders vs. Chargers Prediction: Chargers 26, Raiders 20
Sunday Night Football: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5) at Dallas Cowboys
I’m not going to lie here. I feel disrespected that the Cowboys are getting points at home. Yes, the Bucs have Tom Brady back and are perennial Super Bowl contenders. But these are two teams in very similar boats.
Both teams are down two of their starting wide receivers from last season. Chris Godwin and Michael Gallup will likely miss the start of the year due to torn ACLs. Antonio Brown and Amari Cooper are gone as well.
These two teams opened the 2021 campaign with the Cowboys losing a thriller 31-29 in Tampa Bay. I’m expecting another close, high-scoring affair, but the reverse outcome this time around.
Buccaneers vs. Cowboys Prediction: Cowboys 31, Buccaneers 28
Monday Night Football: Denver Broncos (-4.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Clever, clever NFL scheduling team. Don’t think for one second this wasn’t intentional. Russell Wilson opens the season in the same city he’s called home his entire career. Of course, he’ll only be playing one game in Seattle this season.
Given that the Seahawks will be starting Drew Lock or Geno Smith at quarterback, 4.5 feels like an easy number for the loaded Broncos offense to cover. Wilson will have Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Javonte Williams, and Albert Okwuegbunam at his disposal.
Lock/Smith still have DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but the problem is not having Wilson. I can already tell the public will be all over the Broncos. That forces me to go contrarian and take the Seahawks to keep it close at home.
Broncos vs. Seahawks Prediction: Broncos 24, Seahawks 20